Thursday, September 24, 2009

They don't call it, 'Cracker Barrel' for nothing.

Tasha Hill, a black woman and an army reservist was leaving a Cracker Barrel restaurant in suburban Atlanta when Troy Dale West almost smacked her seven year old daughter with a door.

She told him that she did not appreciate his action, and he responded by beating her badly, using the 'n' word and the 'b' word repeatedly as he pounded her with closed fists.

What is amazing is that there were a fairly large number of customers outside but not one bothered to intervene (though they did tell the police what they saw.)

What is even more amazing and disturbing was the tenor of the interview that Hill and her lawyer got from CNN. They were repeatedly asked whether she 'provoked' the attack.


Excuse me, but how the heck could she have 'provoked' this attack? Although Hill says that all she did was tell him bluntly that she did not appreciate the way he nearly slammed the door on her daughter, it really doesn't matter what she said. Nothing she COULD have said (though witnesses said she didn't say or do anything 'provocative') could possibly justify a brutal assault that still has her nursing bruises a week after the attack. It's that simple. He has no right to physically assault her no matter what she said to him. what is disgusting is that she and her lawyer were even asked if she 'provoked' him. I guess since the victim is a black woman and the perpetrator is a white man the white men doing the interview simply assume that he must have been 'provoked.' It's an outrage that anyone even has to ask about this. I'm not sure that we shouldn't just retire the term, at least when talking about human beings (yeah, you can 'provoke' an animal to attack but humans are supposed to be more highly evolved than animals, though maybe not in Mr. West's case.)

Beyond this, there is something more that is troubling about this as well. It's that the restaurant where this happened was a Cracker Barrel. In this case the restaurant clearly bears no responsibility for Mr. West's actions although the people who failed to intervene were presumably customers on their way in or out. But Cracker Barrel does have a disturbing recent history of racism. Even into the twenty-first century they have practiced de facto segregation such as forcing black customers to sit in the smoking section (including those black customers who don't smoke.) Even Chris Rock's mother has experienced racist treatment at a Cracker Barrel, only three years ago.

So it may well be that there is an undercurrent to this attack: Troy West represents exactly the demographic that Cracker Barrel seeks to attract. Keep in mind that even the name is vaguely racist. "Crackers" (derived from 'whip-crackers,' a term that hearkens back to the worst memories of slavery) were the young southern men who during the worst of the Jim Crow days would keep blacks 'in their place.'

1 comment:

Monica Roberts said...

and sadly he received only 43 days in jail for it...